Sunday, December 30, 2007

Anniversaries

Yesterday was a day of anniversaries for us. It was the 11th anniversary for us as a couple and it was the 4th anniversary of our purchasing this place that has become home. I don't know which anniversary is the biggest surprise as time seems to have gotten away from us, again.

It seems like only a few years ago that PeterC and I were introduced to each other through mutual acquaintances. People who predicted we would never make it past our second anniversary when PeterC and I announced our engagement. In the end they were wrong, but I admit that it hasn't been a faerie tale either. We've had to work through some tough issues but we've come out the stronger couple for those issues.

I think the house anniversary is the biggest surprise for me. I look around at all the things we've accomplished here and I know we've been here a while. But, when I look at the list of things that still have to be done I feel as if we've only just begun and that makes the time we've been here seem so short. I guess I expected to get more done in the time we've had but I have to admit that we have slowly but surely been working our way through the rather long list of things to be done.

As the New Year approaches it gives us the opportunity to review our previous years' progress and make plans for this coming year. There is a garden to plant and tend, there are renovations to plan for and do, and there is life to be lived as fully and as completely as possible. In my darker moods I feel over whelmed by the amount of work that still has to be done, but there is a challenge there as well. A challenge to be met with determination, planning, and hard work. A challenge I will meet head on as the New Year begins, and as another anniversary is added to our time here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Season's Greetings

It is that time of year again when the seasons change and religions around the world celebrate a major Holy Day. Here is wishing all of you the most peaceful, most sacred, and the most pleasant Holy Day you observe in your particular chosen religious path.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snowed In

Some of you may notice that this week's post is a day late. That is because we're as close to being snowed in as we ever have been here at Sparrow Haven, and our Internet connection was down most of the day yesterday.

Between Saturday evening and early this morning we had close to 20 inches of snow fall with winds gusting up to 65 km/hr. The walkway had a 3 foot snow drift covering it, until this morning when I shovelled it out to the front porch. Now it is clear, windy, and quite cold outside so I think the rest of the shovelling will have to wait until this afternoon.

In the meantime, here is a drawing I did for a coworker as a house warming card. Enjoy.
Micron Pen on Archival Card Stock.
4" x 5"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Power Outage

We had our first big power outage of the winter last night. While cooking supper the power went out for several hours. We don't know what caused the outage though we suspect that it was scheduled maintenance since less than one minute after the power failure the power company knew exactly how many people were without power, and how long they would be without power.

We had our wood stove so we were nice and warm. We had our cast iron cookware so we finished cooking supper on the wood stove, switching over almost by instinct to continue baking our food. We had our oil lamps so we had plenty of light. And, to deal with the initial disorientation of a dark house we had our trusty dynamo shake flashlights, that let us find the oil lamps and matches with no trouble at all.

In fact, with very little effort, we switched from relying on the electric for food and warmth to enjoying a quiet evening in the dark with just our simple implements and ourselves for entertainment. It was peaceful with all the street lights out and the constant hum of electronic equipment missing. Perhaps missing is not the word I should use, as we didn't miss the noise or the equipment at all.

I was disappointed when the power came back on and all the noises we are subjected to in this day and age returned. There is something to be said for the simpler times when computers and telephones did not exist. Yes, it was hard to provide for your family and took working sun up to sun down, but there is a peace that comes over me when the electricity is out. Last night it was not by our choice, but perhaps in the future we will make the choice to live our lives without the constant hum, buzz, whirr, and ring of the modern world.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Maple Syrup

As a child, I can remember my parents subjecting us to "Maple Syrup" if they were in particularly generous moods. It was always a dark brown colour and had a sickly sweet taste that over powered the taste of the pancakes and lingered in not such a nice way on the tongue. I resisted all attempts to feed me anything Maple since those awful memories were formed several decades ago.

No maple flavoured product passed these lips be it candy, icecream, or syrup. That is until just this last fall, when I was approached by a person at work who had access to a case of canned maple syrup from the Quebec Sugar Maple. Being the practical person that I am I purchased a case, eight cans, of syrup with the expectation that this natural sweet would last for years in my long term storage shelves for use in a time when I am forced to use it as the only opportunity for sweet.

It has been three months since we purchased the syrup and what I have found is that real maple syrup isn't thick, gooey, sickly sweet, or disgusting at all. Real maple syrup is only slightly thicker than water, sweet but in a mild after thought kind of way, and the flavour goes so well with so many dishes; roasted root vegetables, BBQ beans, pulled pork shoulder, and of course the obligatory breakfast breads like french toast, pancakes, and waffles.

I have examined this phenomenon and have decided that the real problem lay not in my being a picky eater as a child, it is hard to be picky when you eat what is in front of you or starve. No, the real culprit is the food makers who fill cheap food, like corn syrup, with fake flavours to increase their profit margins. So parents, if you want your kids to eat and like good, real food then feed them the authentic stuff not the overly sweet, sticky, imitation crap that the food industry wants to shove into any eager mouth. In the meantime, next year I think I'll buy two cases of maple syrup, just so we have enough to get us through lean times when they come.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sourdough Bread

I mentioned yesterday that I had been baking bread most of the weekend. When I got up this morning and saw all those beautiful loaves of bread sitting on the counter just waiting for someone to take a slice or two. I thought I'd share my lovelies with you, and brag just a little, about the fact that my sourdough starter seems to be flourishing and is obviously doing its job.

There are two loaves of 50% wheat, two loaves of white, one loaf of cinnamon raisin, and the round loaf is herb. PeterC took a loaf of cinnamon raisin to work today but you get the idea. I'm so happy, and very excited to see this particular little project work out so well. PeterC seems quite happy with the results too, as he has declared he isn't sharing with anyone at work regardless of how much they beg. I do so love it when my food is appreciated.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Blowing up a Storm

It's been cold and windy this weekend. For the last several hours the wind has been blowing in from the South East bringing with it spits and sputters of snow and sleet. Several sources are saying that this storm has wrecked havoc with the power grid in NE, USA. These are unconfirmed sources but I have no reason to doubt their truth. Throw another Cat on the bed Mabel, it's going to be a cold one tonight.

On the upside, our Sno-Gems seem to be working like a charm. Earlier this week it warmed up enough to let the snow and ice from last weeks weather slide off the roof. It made a racket as it let go and tumbled for the front walk. The next morning I took a look and found snow and ice on either side of the steps, but the steps themselves free and clear. The snow and ice was captured and held firmly by the sno-gems, allowing it to melt slowly and drip into the gutter.

I've been baking bread for the last two days. I finally decided it was time to use up as much of the extra sourdough starter as I could stand. Yesterday, I made two beautiful loaves of plain bread. Today, I was a bit more adventurous and I now have five loaves of bread rising in the loaf pans. The disadvantage to sourdough bread is that it takes longer to rise than yeast bread. It'll get frozen and eaten over the next few weeks while I build up my sourdough starter again.